For the past several years, the Committee on Intellectual Property, Patents, and Copyrights (IPPC) has been drafting a revised intellectual property policy for the university, its faculty, staff and students to help modernize a policy that has not been substantially updated or revised in several decades.
The University’s Board of Trustees recently approved the updated policy – now called the Intellectual Property Policy – which will go into effect on April 15. This policy addresses ownership of copyright for traditional works, rights in patents and inventions, and rights in software.
Because it was last revised in 1989, the updated policy looks substantially different, but the actual changes, summarized below, are relatively few. In part, updating the policy was necessary to reflect the impact of creating intellectual property in a digital world. As before, the purpose of the policy is to encourage the creation and dissemination of knowledge and promote the commercialization of intellectual property.
The main changes to the updated policy include:
- Clarifying and strengthening the rights of faculty members with respect to their scholarship, instructional works and artistic works. The updated policy clarifies that instructional works—those works that were created for teaching—belong to the faculty-creator, subject to limited licenses to the university.
- Providing extensive rights to software creators. Under the new policy, creators of software not eligible for patent protection will have an exclusive right to use the software for scholarly, instructional and artistic purposes. In addition, faculty-creators will be allowed to distribute the software for free if they wish to do so.
- Describing the collaborative process for the commercialization of inventions, discoveries and patents between creators and the university’s Technology Commercialization Office (TCO).
- Establishing a more generous royalties-sharing mechanism with creators. Creators whose works belong to the university will get a greater share of the income they generate.
- Under the former policy, inventors and the university evenly shared the first $75,000 of licensing income for a particular technology. After the first $75,000, that share was divided: 33.33% to inventors, 25% to the university and 41.67% to the inventors’ department and college.
- Under the updated policy, creators and units that bear direct expenses of commercialization evenly share the first $100,000 of net proceeds for a particular technology. After the first $100,000, 15% goes to the Ohio State Innovation Foundation, followed by the remaining proceeds being distributed 40% each to creators and their department/college/center, and 20% to TCO on behalf of the university.
- Addressing the rights of staff members with respect to their intellectual creations.
- Forming a dispute resolution mechanism, including the possibility of bringing certain issues before the IPPC for further consideration.
After review of the current policy and benchmarking of other institutions around the country, the revised policy was drafted by the IPPC. This group includes members from multiple colleges, the Council of Graduate Students, the Technology Commercialization Office and the Office of Research.
The IPPC created several drafts of the policy before reaching this final version. After several periods of review from the entire university community, including one in fall 2017, the policy was finalized considering this feedback and ultimately approved or endorsed by, among others, the university’s Faculty Council, Senior Management Council, President’s Cabinet, the University Senate and the Board of Trustees.